Building an online 

community for runners

A redesign for the 50 States Half Marathon Club

Client: 50 States Half Marathon Club

Project Type: Conceptual

Duration: 2 Week Sprint

Tools: Figma, Mural, Asana, Optimal Workshop

Team: Andre Oosthuizen, Mijin Kwon, and Paul Kim

Role: UX/UI Designer

Our Design Prompt

For this conceptual design sprint, Andre Oosthuizen, Mijin Kwon, Paul Kim and I were challenged to redesign the 50 States Half Marathon Club website with a mobile first approach. From research to visual design, we completed the entire design process in two weeks. 

One Integrated Community

50 States Half Marathon Club is a national running community. Members enjoy a private Facebook page, race entrance fee discounts, annual meetups, and discounts to the club store. 

 

The club had fifty separate Facebook pages, one for each state. Their goal was to transition away from Facebook and create one integrated online community located on their website.

Defining "Community"

First we had to understand how users defined “community.”

 

We wanted to pick the brains of people who liked to exercise and were part of an online exercising community. We created a survey to narrow down our prospective interviewees. Andre and I conducted three user interviews with people who fit these specifications. We wanted to know what motivated them to exercise, what they liked and disliked about their current online exercise communities, and what their ideal community would look like. 

From these interviews, we learned that everyone had a slightly different definition of community, but they all fell into two categories–people who enjoy camaraderie and accountability from their peers, and people who want access to resources and a large bank of knowledge.​

To represent these two categories of people, we created two fictional personas:

ALEX

Alex: likes to make new friends, and feels more accountable when they workout with a team or group of friends. Wishes they could join a running group based on their skill level.

BLAKE

Blake: an independent runner who researches online ways to improve their running techniques and times. Wishes they could ask other runners what shoes to buy.

Confusing Navigation & Exclusivity

Alex and Blake experienced similar problems on the current site. Disorienting navigation that prevented them from finding what they needed, and the exclusivity of the current Facebook communities. Why would they commit to becoming a member if they couldn't get a sense of what was offered?

Old 50 States Half Marathon Club Private Facebook Page

Only paying members of the club got access to the Facebook page. This was a problem for both Alex and Blake. They wanted to see what was offered before committing to a membership.

Old 50 States Half Marathon Social Media Page

Navigation on the old site was misleading and inconsistent. It was hard to tell what the title of the page was. In the example above, "Member Portal Login" looked like the title, when really it was the "50 States Half Marathon Club Social Corner."

 

In the example below, the calendar page redirects the user to a different website altogether, one with a new color scheme and layout. It's unclear how this website is affiliated with the 50 States Half Marathon Club. 

Old 50 States Half Marathon Calendar Page

The Community

From our personas we knew what users would be expecting from an online community:

 

  • The ability to join running groups based on skill level

  • A place to pose questions and do research 

  • The ability to see what was offered in the community before committing to membership

 

We kept these expectations at the forefront of our design.

Running Groups

For Alex, we created the ability to join running groups

You can filter the running groups based on location, pace, and running distance.

Non members can view running group information, but they can’t join until they have become a paid member. This allows users to see what’s available before committing.

If they decide they want to join, they can become a member.

Forum

For Blake, we created the Forum so they have a place to pose questions and do research.

On the forum you can filter posts by category. You can also sort posts.

You can read posts,

and the comments responding to the posts.

You can create posts and tag them with a category.

Non members can view posts and comments on the forum, but can’t comment or post themselves until they have become a member.

Adding Some Style

The old website was confusing. Everything looked important because there was so much stimulation. I stripped it down by removing everything extraneous. I clarified the titles of the pages.

Old 50 States Half Marathon Home Page

Redesigned 50 States Half Marathon Home Page

I moved the social media icons to the footer at the bottom of the page so they are still accessible, but not taking up valuable real estate at the top of the page. I moved the member portal to the hamburger menu and clarified the title of the page: 50 States Half Marathon Club.

I created a cohesive color scheme of black, white, grays, and greens. By removing the reds and blues from the current site I was able to bring more attention to the vibrant green.

Old 50 States Half Marathon Color Scheme

Redesigned 50 States Half Marathon Color Scheme

I paired them down to one aesthetically pleasing font. By picking one with many style options, we were able to create many moods while still remaining consistent throughout the site. I picked Avenir because of its multitude of styles, its modern aesthetic, and its readability.

Photo courtesy of UC Santa Barbara 

And I created a style guide to ensure design consistency throughout the site.

Testing our Design

We tested the design on users. They found a few things confusing.

The running group filter menu had some confusing language. The “Distance” category confused users because they interpreted it as running distance, instead of distance from their zip code. This category felt redundant so we changed it to running distance.

Version 1 Distance Filter

Version 2 Distance Filter

The category “Speed” also confused users. The correct running terminology is “Pace.” Some users also didn’t know what their pace was in miles per hour, so we changed it to minutes per mile.

Version 1 Speed Filter

Version 2 Pace Filter

Next Steps

We would like to do more user interviews to help the club transition from Facebook to the new online community.

 

Since we designed the site mobile first we’d like to refine our desktop site, and make it function as beautifully as the mobile site.

 

We’d also liked to keep testing and improving our design, because the process is never over.

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